Friday, May 31, 2013

Roasted Kale Chips

Here's a quick and easy recipe that'll make you want to ditch potato chips forever! Need more incentive? Consider this . . . 

Kale is: 

  • Low in calories, high in fiber, and contains zero fat
  • High in Iron, Calcium, and Vitamins K, A & C
  • Filled with powerful antioxidants
  • A great anti-inflammatory food
  • Good for cardiovascular support
  • Filled with fiber and sulfur, making it a great detox food.

Roasted Kale Chips


  • 3 bunches of kale
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 325.

2. Line a rimmed backing sheet with parchment paper

3. Wash and thoroughly dry kale. 

4. Cut kale into chip-size pieces, discarding the thick stems, and arrange on the baking sheet.

5. Brush the top of each leaf with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. 

6. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until crispy. (Do not overcook! I've found that sometimes 10-15 mins is enough)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

Take a break from burgers and give this delicious 'shroom recipe a go! For all the meat-eaters out there, you'll be surprised how much this tastes like steak! Even my father, a true meat-n-potatoes man, likes this recipe. Enjoy! 

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 20 mins

Servings: 4


  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper (optional; I usually skip this part and save myself some chopping)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 portobello mushroom caps


1. Preheat grill to medium

2. Mix all ingredients (except mushrooms) in a large bowl. Spread mixture over gill side of the mushroom caps. 

3. Lightly oil grill grate. Place mushrooms over indirect heat, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Running toward healthy living

My ten-year-old daughter recently completed a 5K run. As programs such as the popular Couch to 5K suggest, running 3.1-miles is a goal that many adults aspire to. And, yet, nearly 30 third through fifth grade girls from my daughter’s elementary school were about to achieve this goal by participating in a program called Girls on the Run (GOTR). And running was the least of it.

Girls on the Run

Utilizing a fun, experience-based curriculum that creatively integrates running through games and team goals, the girls and their coaches met for 90 minutes twice a week to prepare for the 5K run. The ten-week training program inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident, and each lesson focuses on a positive emotional, social, mental and physical development. Participants are encouraged to explore and discuss the challenges girls face at this age, and to develop strategies and skills to help them navigate life’s experiences. In addition to getting exercise, my daughter was learning about herself and how to set and achieve goals, and also about the importance of team work and developing healthy relationships. Most importantly, she was having fun.

After each lesson, an energy award was given to the girl who’d made an extra effort or who showed compassion by helping and encouraging others or demonstrated perseverance by never giving up.

When the girls completed their first practice 5K, my daughter brought home a certificate of achievement. The tag line under the GOTR logo read: Educating and preparing girls for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living. I found it hard to imagine a more positive, empowering and uplifting activity for my daughter to be involved in. Every interaction I had with GOTR was like a breath of fresh air. When I ordered the wrong size shirt for my daughter, the organization immediately sent us another one in the correct size along with their assurance that their main priority is “for the girls to be happy.” It was a level of customer service paired with a “can-do attitude” that is rare these days.

On race day, the girls, dressed in the GOTR t-shirts they’d decorated the week before, gathered to warm up as a team and don hair ribbons in their school colors. Each girl had an adult buddy who ran with her to encourage her. Crowds of people lined the streets to cheer for the girls as they made their way toward the finish line where they collected their medals and waited to welcome and congratulate their teammates.

The sense of pride and accomplishment the girls felt was palpable; the smiles on their faces contagious. They’d completed a journey that not only prepared them physically and emotionally to complete a celebratory 5K running event, but one that elevated their self-esteem, self-image, and self-respect, and emphasized the importance of perseverance, teamwork, and maintaining a positive attitude. The girls knew they’d achieved something amazing; and they ran three miles, too. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

The cream cheese, yoga, caffeine effect

Happy Friday! Did anyone ride their bike to work today for National Bike to Work Day? 

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Since I work from home, I didn't bike TO work, but I did bike. This is a recovery week for me so it was a 60 minute ride with 2 x 12 minute segments at threshold pace, with 10 mins rest in-between. I haven't looked at my pace yet because I don't think I want to know what it was/how bad it was--because yoga and cycling don't mix, as I learned today. 

I teach yoga and I've tried to go for a run after class. I don't do that anymore. My legs feel like lead, my cardiovascular system boycotts the mission, and my joints feel all loose and wobbly. I thought cycling after yoga would be better; I was wrong. 

Does anyone else experience this--poor workouts after a yoga class--or is this a personal problem? 

The merciless headache didn't help either. I woke up with it. Actually, it was a wake-up gift from one of my daughters who woke me from a dead sleep by frantically pounding on my bedroom door. I thought the house was on fire. Or the dog was on fire. Or her pants were on fire. When, in fact, she couldn't find the cream cheese. Not a good way to start the day. 

The headache stayed during yoga. During my bike ride. During work and appointments and errands. And then I realized: I hadn't had any caffeine! All. Day. 

I'm generally a caffeine lightweight and try to keep my intake on the down low--one cup a day--thereby preserving its glorious "Magda" effect for a rainy, I mean, race day. But I think I've had too much this week. A Starbucks indulgence, and their brew is always strong (to me) and I forgot to order half-caff. Then, I was trying to negotiate my new coffee pot (that's another post altogether) and have been brewing pots that are either disgustingly weak--the color of tea--and get dumped down the drain, or heart attack-inducing vats of ink that I man-up to (haha). And, at my favorite coffee house, I remembered to order half-caff, but forgot that, unlike Starbucks, their 16 oz size contains 4 shots instead of 2. 

So, in desperation, I whipped up a quick mug of chai at 4:00. No joy. 

It must have been the combination of the missing cream cheese, the yoga/cycling combo, and the lack of caffeine that created the perfect headache storm. 

Do you have newly bought items mysteriously disappear from your fridge? Does it send your family members into a panic?  

Does yoga wreck your workouts? 

Do you get headaches if you skip a cuppa? 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Avoid getting hit by a car

Drivers can't always see you

The majority of drivers I encounter while running or cycling are courteous and careful, and I try to do my part as well by running or riding defensively, obeying traffic laws and avoiding dangerous situations--such as heading out during high traffic, low visibility or generally dangerous times of day, such as rush hour and when the high schools start letting out. 

But it only takes one careless driver to ruin your run/ride, your day or your life . . . if they don't end it altogether. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2011, 677 cyclists were killed, an 8.7% rise from the year before. To honor cyclists killed in traffic crashes, the League of American Bicyclists created Every Bicyclists Counts,, and data from the site is used to highlight trends, including particularly dangerous locations, and to promote safer driving techniques. 

Pedestrians are no better off. NHTSA reported 4,092 fatalities in 2009, and while state and federal agencies do not track pedestrian accidents specific to runners, Runner's World reports that more than 40 runners have been killed since 2004. 

Don't let his happen to you!
Or this!

Unfortunately, drivers are becoming more distracted behind the wheel. A 2009 Harris poll found that 72 percent of Americans use their cell phones while driving and a 2008 Nationwide Insurance Company survey revealed that nearly one in five drivers text when operating a vehicle. But even if the driver is at fault, when it comes down to a runner or cyclist verses two tons of steel, steel is going to win every time. 

Drivers are distracted
One of the most dangerous situations I've encountered while running is right-turning vehicles.  When a car is turning right onto a roadway from a driveway, side street, 4-way stop or right-on-red intersection, the driver almost always pulls into the road or intersection and begins a right hand turn while LOOKING LEFT! And where are runners in this situation? On the right! I see it happen all the time and I'm particularly alert to this potential danger because I've almost been hit on three separate occasions in exactly this way, and as recently as yesterday

"Right turn, Clyde!" 

Yesterday I went out for a 40-minute run that included 16-minutes at threshold pace. In deference to my aging joints and bones, and the abuse I will inflict on my body this year as I prepare for IMAZ, I've been trying to do at least half of my running workouts on the track. So I ran to the local high school track, maintained a decent threshold pace on the forgiving surface as light rain fell, and was on my way home when it happened:  

I was in front of the high school at a 4-way stop intersection and had deferred to all the waiting vehicles before running across the intersection in the crosswalk when an oncoming car pulled up to the stop sign, rolled through the intersection, and proceeded to make the dreaded "right turn while looking left" without stopping or looking right. (In the picture below, I was in the #2 position, though I was running in the intersection toward and parallel to the car, not approaching from the right as shown.)    

Intersections are dangerous

Adrenaline shot through my body and I somehow managed to unearth a few of the rare quick-twitch fibers within my body and jack-rabbited onto the curb while hollering lake a crazy person. Luckily the driver didn't gun it and was moving slowly enough for me to get out of the way, though I only cleared the front bumper by about two feet. Too close for comfort to be sure. I made eye contact with the driver who looked mildly dazed and never came to a complete stop. I'm not sure she even realized what (almost) happened.

So, be careful out there. Train safe, and be smart. For more tips on how to avoid getting hit by a car while running, check out this article from Runner's World:

Additional information for cyclists can be found at:

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tips for increasing cycling speed

“How do I get faster on my bike?"

The first thing you need to do to boost your average speed on the bike is to put in the time. It’s not uncommon for triathletes to gravitate toward the disciplines they are most comfortable with while avoiding the workouts that are the most frustrating or challenging. But the more you ride, the more efficient you will become and you will build the endurance and the muscle strength and memory needed for cycling. For starters, aim to ride 60-90 minutes two or three times each week.

Once you’ve committed to putting in the miles, it’s time to focus on efficiency; as you probably know, it’s not practice that makes perfect, but perfect practice that makes perfect, and pedaling efficiently is key. 

Many cyclists focus on pedal stroke drills, or Isolated Leg Training (ILT) on an indoor trainer during the off season. These workouts are intended to reduce and eliminate dead spots in your pedal stroke by allowing one leg to do 100 percent of the work while the other leg rests on the bike frame or a stool. The goal is to pedal as smoothly as possible while applying constant power to the stroke. There are a variety of cycling videos you can utilize while on your trainer or a stationary bike at the gym that incorporate pedal stroke drills. Once you’ve become efficient pedaling on the trainer in a normal configuration, you can try putting blocks under your front wheel to simulate hill climbing.

After you’ve achieved good form while doing ILT work indoors, try testing your skills outdoors on a flat course by relaxing and unweighting one leg while the other leg does 90 percent of the work, using a gear combination that allows you to apply consistent force to the pedals. Both feet should remain clipped in while doing outdoor drills. Once you’ve gained good ILT proficiency on flat ground, be sure to incorporate these drills while climbing hills. According to, studies have shown that “cycling uphill decreases gross efficiency and is associated with changes in pedaling technique.” Therefore, if you train your legs to be as efficient as possible while pedaling uphill it will only help you in your quest to increase your cycling speed.

Continuous pedaling while riding is another way to achieve speed gains. notes that if you spend a lot of time coasting, you're not building the fitness necessary to keep high average speeds at a low metabolic cost. Focus on generating power with each pedal stroke and experiment with gear settings until you find a combination that allows you to maintain consistent force on the pedals, even when riding downhill.  

Hill repeats, interval training, and riding in an aerodynamic position will also help to boost your overall cycling speed. Making just a few changes to your workouts and pedaling technique can make a big difference in your performance. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Don't let a flat deflate your workout

Faced with a flat? Here are some tips to help you fix it fast: 

A friend who recently discovered her bike tire was flat called to ask how to remove the stem from the tube. “I keep pulling and tugging but can’t get the stem to come off.” I couldn’t help but laugh a little as I explained that the stem is supposed to remain attached and that each new tube has its own stem.

Fortunately this friend was in her own driveway and not stranded on the side of the road somewhere when it came time to tackle her first flat. Think of it this way: Just as you must learn to walk before you can run, you must also learn to change a tire before you ride; especially if you ride alone.

Though there are numerous instructional videos online that demonstrate the correct way to change a tire, nothing beats hands-on experience when it comes to learning to do it yourself. Consider contacting your local bike shop as most offer free tire-changing clinics throughout the year.

To change a tire at home or on the road you will need a pump or a CO2 cartridge, a tire lever and a spare tube.  If your tire becomes flat, remove the wheel from the bike and perform an external inspection of the tire, removing any nails, splinters or scrap metal you find. 

Next, use the tire lever to remove the tire from the rim and extract the damaged tube. 

Carefully run your finger around the inside of the tire to make sure no sharp objects remain. Position the new tube inside the tire, taking care to make sure it is not bunched or twisted, tuck the tire back into the rim, and inflate the new tube.

Though a pump is beneficial because it provides an infinite supply of air, it’s more work to use and is somewhat bulky to carry. CO2 cartridges, which use compressed CO2 to rapidly inflate a tube, are a quick and compact alternative. However, in addition to the extra cost of using CO2 cartridges, the drawback, according to, is that “you get only one shot per cartridge, so you better not misfire.” notes that new users sometimes find it difficult to gauge exactly how much pressure the CO2 cartridges are delivering. “Many cyclists have blown out tubes by over-inflating them, but that gets easier with practice,” the site reports. So, since your air supply is thus limited to the number of cartridges you carry, toting extra CO2 becomes just as important as carrying spare tubes.  All of these items, including a patch kit, can be neatly stowed in a bike wedge or small seat pouch that is typically mounted below the saddle.

   recommends that before every ride you inspect your tires and check the pressure, make sure brakes are operational, and tighten any loose hardware. After riding, be sure to inspect your tires again, clean your drivetrain and frame of sand, grime and sweat, re-lube your chain, and hang your bike in a safe place. 

A bike tune up, which is a complete inspection, adjustment, and lubrication of your bicycle, is recommended every six to twelve months to ensure your bike is safe and reliable.